Tom Verlaine
Around / Songs and Other Things

Thrill Jockey
D / D+
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2006-06-21

Posted 06/21/2006 - 10:04:30 AM by florenz6:
 Sorry, in my ears these are very fine records, full of nuance, textural qualities, melody, fun, sex, in-between-zones - both are jazzy, charming and full of understatement! And I do know the classic stuff. So, please, people, don´t take anyone´s opinion too serious before making up your own mind. Tom Verlaine´s two records are a welcome return to form!
Posted 06/21/2006 - 12:23:38 PM by Cacophony:
 dear stylus, please get rid of ian mathers. he is terrible. thank you in advance. cacophony
Posted 06/21/2006 - 01:30:08 PM by boilingboy:
 Go Ian! Again, having the cojones to go after a sacred cow, with the crucial component of being a sincere fan of the artist's seminal work. I don't think your writing ever comes off as iconoclastic for it's own sake...unlike some of your fellow Stylus writers. I loved Television (including Adventure and the self-titled comeback), but Velaine's latter day solo albums have been sloppy and under written.
Posted 06/21/2006 - 02:25:00 PM by grandbanks:
 Mathers, you are such a twat. I don't have a lot at stake in defending Tom Verlaine, he doesn't need my help, but this is yet another poor effort. It's not your opinions I really have a problem with, I can see where your tastes diverge from mine and am fine with it, it is just the takes that suck. If you don't think Thrill Jockey as an entity are fans of these records you are woefully misguided. Listen to any Tortoise record and see the direct influence from Verlaine's past solo efforts. While the pop thrills and heroics from "Marquee Moon" are not in evidence, this is most certainly on purpose and beside the point. It's been about thirty years, I think Tom's onto other things guy. You may not like it, but it is far from irrelevant or unnecessary. Most musicians Verlaine's age are woefully embarrassing. These records have little of the instant gratification inherent in most crap records, but radiate a considered and warm humanity that many young hotshots just can't touch. At this point I almost think you are a plant to generate dialogue on this site, and I like the Space Needle.
Posted 06/22/2006 - 06:42:15 AM by florenz6:
 Mr. Grandbanks, you said it all in a very fine and exact way! Nice idea that Ian Mathers is a plant to generate dialogue:)I didn´t think so far, but ,well, you might be right. So, let´s assume that Mr. Mathers is the real "think tank" in Stylus - wow!
Posted 06/22/2006 - 08:28:52 AM by downloadsofist:
 "We can't escape context," you say, and you're right. But tell us--have you listened to any of Verlaine's other solo work? Why no mention of them? Because that's the context for these releases, not Television.
Posted 06/22/2006 - 11:43:30 AM by IanMathers:
 downloadsofist, I was tempted to address that point more directly in the review, but I thought I'd covered it well enough; clearly I didn't. I agree that for Verlaine's actual fan base (tiny thing that it is) the context for these records are his other solo discs, but they are probably going to ignore reviews anyway. The vast majority of listeners who see Tom Verlaine has a new album out and wonder what they're like, however, will be coming to these ones with Marquee Moon and maybe a couple other Television discs in mind. For most music fans, that's the context they're going to experience his new work in. Fair? Possibly not. But that's the way things work. When Paul McCartney puts out a new solo record, the context for the vast majority of people who are going to see it in the store is the Beatles and Wings, not the lower-profile albums he's done since. I haven't made any sort of exhaustive study of Verlaine's solo material, but I have heard some tracks and nothing on either disc here seems as strong as the past material I have heard.
Posted 06/22/2006 - 01:42:38 PM by florenz6:
  I think Matt Cibula wrote an excellent review in "Pop Matters" that includes much context and an appraisal of these two very fine albums. A short P.S. from the tiny fan base (haha)
Posted 06/22/2006 - 04:01:11 PM by grandbanks:
 Mr. Mathers, when you try to defend yourself you aren't improving matters greatly. I can go read a Rolling Stone or whatnot to see a review geared towards the largest, least informed audience possible. I think I understand Stylus' approach, a somewhat broad-minded appreciation of music and culture, whether overtly pop or experimental, and as far as I can tell the site seems to value taking these records on their own terms without indie snobbery or mainstream fear, the "we're gonna write what we think, damn it" approach. Hey, great. That's why I check it out. Pretty good writing all around, diverse opinions, special features on singles, tapes, "On Second Thought." Cool. So why the shit about most people just caring about Verlaine vs. Television. Say what you actually think and stick to it. Don't qualify it with bullshit about the perceived audience and what it expects from your journalistic efforts. If your editor doesn't like it I am sure he'll let you know, otherwise have some respect for your readership. People have been saying you have balls for taking down some sacred cows, but it doesn't take balls to facelessly criticise something online. It takes balls to admit to not listening to much other solo Verlaine material and then call this batch an "egregious waste of your time." I know, this is just your opinion, but fuck, man, its a shitty one. Poorly argued etc. Did you see any adds for these records claiming they would sound like "Marquee Moon"? Was there a vast effort to swindle the public? Because your reviews make it seem like you were wronged. Overly harsh, admittedly uninformed, and pointless. I haven't even gotten into the Thrill Jockey comments, which again were just idiotic. Nobody deserves a pass for old glories, but they consider a little more effort and, yes, context. When you are 55 do you think you are still gonna tell all your friends what you were up to when you were 25? Twat.
Posted 07/23/2006 - 07:31:08 AM by Richie_A:
 I wouldn't disagree a whole lot with your opinion on 'Songs And Other Things' (I'm fairly disappointed by it too) but you're way off on 'Around'.. it's a gorgeous mood piece, perfect nocturnal headphones listening. It's ridiculous to even try and compare something like this to Marquee Moon, the experience is utterly different. Sure, it's probably not going to make anybody's best-of-the-year list, but it does what it sets out to do beautifully, and I don't think it deserves your dismissive review.
Posted 04/09/2007 - 03:49:44 AM by IanMathers:
 You're right, grandbanks, it doesn't take balls to facelessly criticise something online. Of course I'm using my real name, and you've got a cute little pseudonym. So I'm not sure why you're drawing attention to that.